With the draw for the Euro 2012 Finals draw potentially throwing up a group of death scenario for England, former international Gareth Southgate still insists the semi-finals is achievable, and Wayne Rooney is key to reaching that target.
Southgate was capped 57 times for his country and is now the FA’s head of elite development, working alongside Sir Trevor Brooking.
Speaking ahead of the draw, Southgate said: “As with any major football tournament in England, this evening’s draw is one we are all excited by.
“We could end up with four of the top nations or it could be some of the easier teams but the standard at the European Championships is always high. Portugal and France are the obvious ones to avoid but the recent win against Spain will give this England team the confidence that we can beat any team on the day.
“What I liked about the recent friendlies was the follow up win against Sweden which was a really good defensive performance, and at major tournaments clean sheets are imperative.”
Despite his praise for England’s defensive qualities, the former centre-back was in no doubt it’s in the striker department that Fabio Capello must make his biggest decision.
Rooney is unavailable for the group stages next summer in Poland and Ukraine following his sending off in Montenegro, pending an appeal from the English FA. But according to Southgate, Capello must still take the Manchester United man, with a rested Rooney key to England’s chances of at least making the last four.
“Taking him is not a gamble at all and he will be well rested, fit and raring to go which is what you want when you are a manager. In the group stages unless there is a huge issue with injuries, you are not going to use more than 15 or 16 players and all the team would welcome him back in to the side.
“When it comes to a major tournament as a nation we expect to make the semi-finals every time, anything less than that would be a disappointment for England and the ability we have in this team. So the aim has got to be to get at least through to the quarters then you never know.”
Gareth Southgate was speaking on behalf of Carlsberg. Carlsberg is The Official Beer of The England Team and will be giving away tickets to Euro 2012 throughout the season. Keep checking www.facebook.com/CarlsbergForEngland for your chance to watch England in next summer’s EURO 2012™ Championships.
Tags: England, Euro 2012, Gareth Southgate, Wayne Rooney